THE United Nations' most senior official in Cambodia, Benny Widyono, has been drawn
into the political infighting.
First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh wrote to the UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan Apr 22 asking that a replacement for Widyono be appointed.
Co-Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier asked that Widyono's mandate as special representative
of the UN Secretary-General be extended until the 1998 elections.
Describing Widyono as an "old hand" in Cambodia, Hun Sen wrote in an Apr
7 letter to Kofi Annan: "Any replacement of Mr Widyono at this juncture of Cambodia's
democratic progress may be regarded as an attempt to derail it."
Ranariddh, in his subsequent letter, said that Hun Sen's request for Widyono to stay
on in the UN role was made "without my knowledge".
"I very much welcome the nomination by the United Nations of a new Special Representative
in Cambodia at the expiration of ... Mr Benny Widyono's term of office," Ranariddh
wrote, with the word 'new' written in boldface.
Annan Apr 14 extended the office of his special representative to Cambodia by six
months, but has yet to confirm that Widyono would continue on as his representative.
Widyono did not want to comment to the Post, except to say that it was up to the
UN Secretary-General to make a decision.
The issue is likely to be considered by UN assistant Secretary General for political
affairs Alvaro de Soto, due to arrive in Phnom Penh on May 3. The UN envoy is expected
to meet separately with Ranariddh, Hun Sen, and Foreign Minister Ung Huot.